December 25, 2014

Downton Abbey 5 - Christmas Episode

Watch HERE

or HERE for part one and HERE for part two

The labrador’s backside is back for Christmas. And let’s hope it’s not just for Christmas, eh? Actually, my Christmas wish would be that it is just for Christmas. Because if this convoluted outing proved anything, it’s that this series has outstayed its welcome. Unlike Isis the dog, whose absence in this Christmas special finally disproved the conspiracy theory that she was just absent from the last episode to tease us. Sorry, people, but Isis really is dead.
As always this was a beautifully made and wonderfully acted confection showcasing all the shortcomings of the Downton Abbey brand. In the opening sequences, it felt as if the actors had been directed to speak the dialogue slowly and carefully in order to help viewers a) worse for the cooking sherry and b) unfamiliar with Downton (as probably many Christmas-only viewers were – lucky them). There was a lot of signposting of characters and history, which only served to flag up that there are often far too many people involved and far too many things going on.
downton-christmas-2014-2-As a standalone piece for anyone not following the series, I suspect this outing worked rather well as retro festive wallpaper. And there can surely be no finer features on screen than those of Matthew Goode (Wickham in last year’s Death Comes to Pemberley and also a series regular in The Good Wife), seen fleetingly here flirting with Lady Mary and making a Dukes of Hazzard-style getaway in a fast motorcar. If he is coming in as the dark-haired replacement for Dan Stevens, that will be a happy event indeed.
For those of us who have been suffering the joys and pains of the past five series, it tied up a paltry number of loose ends (Dame Maggie’s Russian tryst, Rose’s uncomfortable relationship with her new inlaws, Edith not knowing that her father knows about the Impostor Child). And Uncle Julian did at least give us the payoff we’ve been anticipating since last year’s Christmas episode: the marriage of Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson. Hooray!

Downton Abbey Christmas special: Carson proposes to Mrs Hughes
But unbelievably (or totally believably if you are used to the snail’s pace of Downton) he left the “Who killed rapist valet Green?” plot open. We don’t even really know if it definitely isn’t Anna or definitely isn’t Bates. My money, despite the pub landlord’s evidence, is still on Bates. But surely by now we deserve resolution on this? We found out Green was dead on 10 November 2013. Seriously, Uncle Julian, how long are you going to leave this hanging? Do you even know who killed him? I suspect no one cares any more.
There were some pleasing details. The Russian Silver Fox! Midnight skating to the strains of the balaika! Setting sail in the prince’s yacht! The manic depressive Russian princess (Jane Lapotaire) was superb and, as every guest is forced to on this show, really made the most of her three sentences. Alun Armstrong as The Evil Butler, Stowell (yes, I know, I heard it as “Stole” and “Stowe” the whole way through, too), was wonderful: “I am not a novice anywhere.” And there was plenty of Molesley, which is always a delight. But what a missed opportunity! When Molesley was rifling in Anna’s drawers, I was convinced he would find the Ill-Defined Contraceptive Device. So disappointing.
But let’s draw a veil over that and concentrate on the best marriage proposal ever from a man resembling a cautious and lovable badger: “Well, that’s the point. I do want to be stuck with you ...” Who wouldn’t drink to Mr Carson’s happiness on Christmas Day?

Random subplot alert

The healing broth certainly rivals the controversial electric toaster, the impromptu soup kitchen and the miscarriage-causing soap as the most random subplot of all time. Still, who cares when it gives Spratt (Jeremy Swift) the chance to make his most excellent faces? The jury is still out on Denker. Sue Johnston plays the role as if there’s a lot more to Denker than meets the eye. It would be wonderful if this were true (and Spratt hinted at as much). But knowing Uncle Julian, this is likely to be another red herring. Or a plot point that won’t get resolved until 2017.

It's Christmas!

Surprise character development

One of the biggest surprises of series five has been the revelation of Cousin Violet’s former life as a hussy. Dame Maggie has played this wonderfully, reverting to her 21-year-old self every time the Russian Silver Fox enters the county. The moment between Cousin Violet and Cousin Isobel about the “immoral proposition” was vintage Downton. The twin storyline about her love for the prince and Cousin Isobel’s love for Lord Merton has been a good one, allowing the two women to draw closer together whil still holding each other at arm’s length. This is the kind of thing Downton does so well. But we see it too rarely and too fleetingly, thus rendering an infuriating experience even more infuriating.

In need of a breath of fresh air.Golden eyebrow of the week

It has go to to the Earl of Grantham, who leaped up from his seat – in a manner reminiscent of Lazarus-Matthew leaping up from his “the-tingle-is-back” bath chair – as soon as he learned that there was an alibi for Bates. “We know which pub it was ...” “What?” He was closely rivalled by Branson, however, who rarely gets any eyebrow action but was forced to emote fiercely throughout this episode. An honorary mention for a beautifully furrowed brow during the weeping over Dead Sybil, swiftly undermined by the line: “I love the way you love her.” What is this? Is Branson secretly Michael Bublé’s lyricist?

That's a very big tree.Excuse me, could you just repeat that awkward line of dialogue?

 “It breaks my heart to see her there. But she is strong.” Brendan Coyle (Bates) manages to deliver his lines as if he is simultaneously James Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life and Hannibal Lecter. 
 “You know me: never complain. Never explain.” Dismayed that the mystery of Dame Maggie’s Russian adventure has been solved. We want more Wayward Violet!
 “You’re in for the Downton Christmas and if that doesn’t put you off, nothing will.” Also a metaphor for this phenomenon generally.

Next week

There’s no Next Week! Hurrah! But series six is already confirmed and will be back on our screens in autumn 2015. Exhausting.
recap by Viv Groskop at

Call The Midwife 3 - Christmas Special - Episode 9

Call the Midwife Christmas special - what did you think?

Watch HERE or on google drive:

part 1

Part 2

Call the Midwife is well and truly back. Nine months after they were last on our telly screens the midwives of Nonnatus returned to claim their place as a Christmas classic.
We met an elderly Jenny Lee (played by Vanessa Redgrave), had religious realisations, fought against prejudice and cared for the vulnerable. Plus enjoyed plenty of suitably-festive scenes: snowflake dances, actualsnowflakes, mince pies, giant Christmas trees and flaming puddings.

Chummy and Patsy headed off to look after the inhabitants of a poorly-run mother and baby home while PC Noakes sat his Sergeants exams, again. Meanwhile Cynthia pondered joining the religious order, while caring for a couple who had been released from a Victorian mental hospital.

If you ask me, being snuggled up with Chummy and co for company was a heartwarming way to spend an hour and a quarter this Christmas. I challenge anyone not to feel even a tiny bit teary in the final few minutes. 
But what did you think? Did Call the Midwife's generosity and gentleness have you blubbing and reaching for your handkerchief? Or was the series' sweet and sentimental message a bit much for you post-Christmas lunch? 

Are the midwives of Nonnatus Christmas institutions? Or could you do without the red cardigan-ed residents of Poplar?

December 20, 2014

Downton Abbey - EXTRA - Christmas Video

Watch this special Downton Abbey sketch for Text Santa featuring special guests including George Clooney.


Part two below


December 14, 2014

LIFE LESSONS: My Grandparents & a Little Green Plant

I read a quote the other day that reminded me of my Grandparents, a little green plant and how we all treat each other.

I lived with my grandparents in high school.  Grandma was a brilliant cook and Grandpa was a deticated gardener.  They grew all sorts of fruits and vegetables in the back yard.  I remember one evening the weather man on KSL news reported that an unexpected frost would be hitting during the night so plants needed to be covered. Grandpa and grandma stepped into action.  In minutes we were all out back draping large blue tarps over half of the back yard.  

In the morning, my grandfather went out to survey the damage.  Our tarps had done the job.  Well, almost.   

Way in the back corner, one little plant had been forgotten.  I dont know if the tarp had blown off, not been tied down tight enough or if no one had noticed the little green plant against the fence. Whatever the reason, it was obvious that the little green fella had had a long, tough night.  I thought it was a lost cause but it was just one.  So no big deal, right?   Wrong.

My grandfather carefully dug up and then replanted the small green plant into a pot.  He then carried it inside.  For days my grandparents dotted over the little guy.  Water, sunshine, tender care. Soon, the plant was back out in the yard, back in his old spot, ready to grow to his full potential.  Not once did my grandfather think we had a rebellious, no longer useful plant on our hands - not worthy of saving.  Not once did any of us blame the plant.

If only people treated each other the same way.  When we see someone who has weathered a few storms, do we rush to help or do we roll our eyes, find fault  and see a lost cause?   Imagine if we gave people a bit more love and attention, instead of judging them.  So lets help them.  Because sometimes all a person needs is a little help finding warmth and to be facing the Son.

December 09, 2014

Favorite Quotes

It's already been a busy week, but a good one. Whenever I speak to women's groups, especially survivors of violence and abuse, I am reminded of and share a few of my favorite quotes.  I love quotes that inspire, uplift and motivate.  

#Prescription #Drug #hawaiirehab
I think everyone should remember that we ALL have a past.   It's up to us whether or not we want to let our past be our present, or simply learn from what once was.   Good or bad, it's up to us to grow up, move on and live life the way we want it to be. We don't get to come back, and this earthly life is short.   Make it worth all the effort.
i might love this so muchOther people will judge u, give opinions on your life or even try to harm u...don't let that keep u from leaving peacefully:) I've been thru it all & tho maybe in the past I let it steal my joy today it rubs off like butter:)use past heartaches to comfort others who may be now experiencing the same
Quotes and Sayings About Overcoming | Bad Childhood, Great Life – Overcoming your past and shaping your ...
September is National Recovery Month. I made these graphics and collages in honor of all those who know or love someone who's beaten their addictions, are fighting their addictions, and those who lost their battles to demons they couldn't overcome. The stigmas attached to addictions of any kind need to be a thing of the past. It's a disease and it can be fatal. Treating addicts as lesser than human does nothing to help anyone, and only makes the fight that much harder for those struggling to overcome their problems. It's a shame that it isn't till fairly recently that the medical community realized addiction itself usually isn't the main problem, but actually a symptom of a much deeper emotional problem (ie: PTSD, self medicating due to sexual abuse or rape, underlying mental issues such as schizophrenia or severe depression, etc.). Treatment needs to be individualized and the underlying issues must be faced and dealt with in order to truly heal. All addicts are not the same, there is no one size fits all "cure", and some of the most brilliant and compassionate people in the world are addicts. Ostracizing and demonizing those suffering with this disease helps no-one. Alcohol kills more people than all other drugs combined but it's legal and not stigmatized in the same way as those addicted to illegal substances. Addiction doesn't discriminate, and affects every class, race, and age group. It can happen to anyone. And no one grows up wanting to be a junkie, alcoholic or slave to any substance. So try and keep this in mind the next time you judge someone and instead empathize with them, their struggle is immense and lifelong. A little compassion can go a long way.Looking for #Quotes, Life #Quote, Love Quotes, Quotes about moving on, and Best Life Quotes here. Visit "Life Quotes Ru in Tumblr"!
my dentist once told me...So true wish some people saw life and certain things this way.
Realising the benefits and what you have learned about yourself is part of the healing
The real character of a person is revealed not in how they begin a relationship, but how they end one.
Boy is this one true. It happened to each of my siblings and many others - all the same way. Finally, enough was enough and we all moved on. Sad, but oh, so necessary.
Hurt people, hurt people. That's how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation after generation. Break the chain today. Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion and cruelty with kindness. Greet grimaces with smiles. Forgive and forget about finding fault. Love is the weapon of the future. ~Yehuda Berg   :)
Life. Be the woman you want your children to grow up to be. Be the person other people say good things about
There is no such thing as closure.  Accept it for what it is and then square your shoulders and lift that chin girl -  its time to move on and live the life YOU deserve!  :-*  ♥

every woman HAS to know this.  You cannot control what others think of you or how they feel about you -- but you are in complete control of what and how you think of yourself.   Someone who completely loves and accepts themselves, does not need anyone else to affirm that.
You cannot control what others think of you or how they feel about you -- but you are in complete control of what and how you think of yourself. Someone who completely loves and accepts themselves, does not need anyone else to affirm that.